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Full text of "Beyond Road's End: A Backcountry User's Guide to Yellowstone National Park"

Clemson University 






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A B AC KC Ol NTRV USER'S Gt IDE TO 
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK 



Camping in the park is limited to 7 days in a single 
period or combined separate periods between July 1 
and August 25, and to 30 days in any one year. 



NOTES: 



Index on pages 19 and 20 








WELCOME 



The National Park Service is dedicated to conserv- 
ing Yellowstone National Park in its natural state To 
help visitors safely enjoy the backcountry, and to 
lessen their impact on the natural resources, the 
Service has established a backcountry use manage- 
ment program. The regulations and recommenda- 
tions given in this booklet are parts of that program 

This booklet will help you plan your trip into 
Yellowstone's backcountry. We ask your help in 
maintaining one of Amen cas greatest natural areas. 

INFORMATION SOURCES 

Maps and trail guidebooks of Yellowstone National 
Park are available at visitor centersand some ranger 
stations or can be requested by mail from: 
Yellowstone Library and Museum Association. 
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 82190 Maps 
are ai so available from the Distribution Section, US 
Geological Survey, Federal Center, Denver, 
Colorado 80225 

1 



EMERGENCY REPORTING 

Anywhere in the park. 24 hours a day. dial 911. 

REGULATIONS 

To protect the backcountry of Yellowstone and to 
provide visitors with a safe, enjoyable wilderness 
experience, the National Park Service has estab- 
lished the following regulations. These regulations 
are enforced Do yourself and the park rangers a 
favor by doing your best to comply If you have any 
questions about the regulations, contact a park 
ranger for an explanation. 

Backcountry Use Permits are required to stay 
overnight or to build a fire outside auto camp- 
grounds Permits are available only in person (not by 
mailorbyphone except for winter expeditions ), and 
only 48 hours in advance 

You need a boat pe r mit to use a floating craft in the 
park All park streams are closed to boating except 
the Lewis River between Shoshone and Lewis Lake 

You need a Yellowstone National Park fishing permit 
in your possession while fishing in park waters, if 
you are 12 years of age or older State fishing 
licenses are not required. You will be given a fishing 
regulations folder when you pick up your license. 

Pets are not permitted in the backcountry Dogsand 
cats on leash, crated or otherwise under physical 
restraint, are permitted in the park only within 100 
feet of established roads and parking areas. Dogs 
and cats are prohibited on established trails and 
boardwalks 

Firearms and wheeled or motorized vehicles are 
prohibited on trails or in the backcountry. 

To prevent access by bears, hang all food not being 
eaten, prepared for eating, or being transported 

2 




Hang it at least ten feet above the ground and at least 
four feet horizontally from any post or tree trunk 
(see illustration, page 17). 

Park regulations prohibit disturbing, destroying, 
possessing or removing any plant, animal or mineral 
substances. Collecting antlers is prohibited. Antlers 
shed by large animals are consumed by smaller 
animals, leave them in place. Leave archaeological 
or historical items in place. Take pictures, and report 
your discoveries to a park ranger 

Your party may not exceed limits on numbers of 
people and stock specified for each campsite, and 
noted on your permit. One party may not occupy 
one backcountry campsite more than three nights 
on one trip (fewer nights in heavily used areas). 

Camping in the park is limited to 14 days either in a 
single period or combined separate periods 
between July 1 and Labor Day, and to 30days in any 
one year. 

You may use open wood fires only in established fire 
sites in designated campsites. Do not build new fire 
rings. Use only dead and down material for 
firewood. Do not brer 1 ' limbs from trees. Attend your 
fires, and completely extinguish them before leaving 

3 



your campsite. Backpacking stoves are recom- 
mended. In undesignated or "cross-country" route 
sites, open wood fires are not permitted. Use only 
backpack stoves. 

Carry out noncumbustible refuse and all unburned 
combustible refuse from the backcountry. 
Dispose of waste water at least 100 feet (30 meters) 
from your campsite or from any park waters. It is 
unlawful to pollute park waters by washing yourself, 
dishes or clothing in them. Bathing in thermal pools 
and their runoff streams is prohibited. 
You may not dig to trench around tents or io level 
sleeping sites. Using chainsaws or generators is 
prohibited. 

Audio devices — radios, tape players, etc. — may not 
be played at times or at loudness levels that annoy 
other visitors. 




RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ALL BACKCOUNTRY 
USERS 

"Backcountry" is defined as any part of the park 
more than 250 yards from paved roads and more 
than one-half mile from park facilities other than 
trails and patrol cabins. 

4 



You need a Backcountry Use Permit to build afire or 
to stay overnight in any area except auto 
campgrounds. Free Backcountry Use Permits and 
information are available at the following ranger 
stations (R.S.) and visitor centers (V.C.) in the 
summer: 

Mammoth R.S. and V.C. Grant Village R.S. 

Tower R S. South Entrance R.S. 

Northeast Entrance R.S. Becher R.S. 

Canyon R.S. and V.C. Old Faithful R.S. 

Lake R.S. Madison R.S 

Bridge Bay Marina R.S. West Entrance R.S. 

East Entrance R.S. Norris Campground R.S. 

Camp in the backcountry only in sites or areas 
designated on your Backcountry Use Permit, and 
only on the dates assigned. Keep wood fires small, 
and use existing fire rings only. 

There are over 1,000 miles (1,610 km) of trails 
winding throughout the park. Travel off-trail is 
difficult and is not recommended. It is easy to 
become lost when you are not familiar with the area, 
and there are no prominent landmarks. Carry a 
topographic map of the area and a compass, and 
know how to use them. Solo hiking is not advised. 
Even the most experienced hiker can get into 
trouble. By yourself, you have little chance of 
obtaining help. 

Streams may be in flood stage from May through 
July due to snowmelt runoff. If you must ford a 
stream or river, face sideways to the current to 
lessen water resistance, and use a strong pole as a 
brace downstream Where water isdeeperthan mid- 
thigh, link arms or use a safety rope, or search for a 
more shallow area to ford. 



If you fall into cold water, you are in serious.danger 
Exposure to cold, especially when you 'are wet, 
combined with exhaustion can cause you to lose 
heat faster than you can replace it, resulting in 
hypothermia and possible death. You must prevent 
it. Cold first dulls your judgment and disables your 
hands, so you are less able to take care of yourself. 

Recognize the danger of hypothermia. Most cold 
deaths happen in air temperatures between 30°Fand 
50°F Water at 50°F is unbearably cold Stay dry. Wet 
clothes lose most of their insulating value. Put on 
rainwear before you are wet; put on a wool cap and 
sweater before you are chilled. Balance activity and 
clothing to prevent sweating. Protect yourself from 
wind. A breeze carries heat away rapidly, and blows 
rain under a poncho. 

If you begin to shiver, stop what you are doing. Get 
out of the wind and rain. Camp and build a fire. The 
moment you stop, your body produces 50% less heat 
than it did while you were hiking. Put on dry clothes. 
Eat sugary or starchy foods. Avoid alcohol, which 
causes you to lose heat rapidly. Watch for symptoms 
of body cooling — shivering, slurred speech, mem- 
ory lapses, rigid hands, stumbling, drowsiness and 
exhaustion. 

Treat even mild symptoms immediately and 
aggressively. Get the cold person out of the wind 
and rain. Strip off all wet clothes and replace them 
with dry ones. Give the person warm, sweetened 
drinks. Get the person into a sleeping bag on a pad, 
but keep the person awake. If the person loses 
consciousness, keep nose and mouth passages 
clear and add warmth from another person or two 
persons, by skin-to-skin contact in the sleeping bag. 

Lightning storms happen frequently during sum- 

6 



mer. Get off the water or the beaches when these 
storms approach. During storms, stay away from 
ridges, exposed places and isolated trees. Look for 
level forested areas for shelter. Thick lodgepole pine 
forests with trees of equal height offer better 
protection than the more irregular Douglas fir or 
spruce forests If you are caught out in the open in a 
large meadow, crouch low, head down, with only 
your feet touching the ground. Squat, head down, 
on a foam pad if you have one. 




Be careful, in thermal areas. Do not approach 
backcountry thermal features too closely: thin crust 
overlying boiling water can be deadly' For your 
safety, don't enter thermal areas after dark 
Particularly, stay clear of areas that are barren of 
plant growth. It takes hundreds of years to build up 
the fragile crust of minerals that surround thermal 
features. Careless walking is not only dangerous, 
but destructive Taking souvenirs, altering or putting 
objects into any thermal feature is forbidden 
Bathing or swimming in any thermal pool or runoff 
channel in Yellowstone National Park is damaging, 
dangerous, and unlawful Leave this fragile beauty 
for others to enjoy. 

Mosquitoes, gnats, black flies and larger biting flies 
can make an otherwise beautiful trip miserable. 
Ticks are also present in sagebrush and wooded 
areas Repellents, head nets, gloves, and mosquito- 
proof tents can help. 

7 



Lakes and streams in the park are commonly used as 
a source for drinking water All waters may be 
polluted by animal and or human wastes Water 
should be boiled for 12 minutes or treated with 
iodine to reduce your chance of infection. Other 
means of purification may be ineffective against 
giardia. bacteria that cause stomach disorders 
Proper disposal of human waste where there are no 
toilets is very important. Human wastes become a 
sanitation problem if not buried correctly. Carry a 
small digging tool, such as a light garden trowel 
Select a spot at least 100 feet from any watercourse 
and dig a hole 8 to 10 inches in diameter, but no 
deeper than 6 to 8 inches Bacteria and other 
organisms live in this soil level and will naturally 
decompose wastes in several days. After use. fill in 
the hole with loose soil and tramp in the removed 
sod If you have no trowel or shovel, it may be 
possible to dig a hole with the heel of your boot or a 
stick, or perhaps you can overturn a half -buried rock 
or log to make a hole Replace the rock A narrow 
latrine trench for larger parties is better than 
numerous "catholes '* Never use latrines or pit toilets 
for trash or garbage disposal It attracts bears. 

Ten essentials checklist: 

Map — USGS 15-mmute quadrangles are best. 
Compass-- Read instructions and practice with 

it. 

Flashlight or headlamp, fresh batteries and 

spare bulb 

Extra food, secure in plastic bags. 

Extra clothing — wool cap. mittens, ram gear, 

socks, etc 

Sunglasses, sunscreen, insect repellent. 

Knife, sharp. 

8 



Matches, waterproof, or butane lighter. 
Fire starter — candle, etc. 
First aid/emergency kit. 

FOR HIKERS 

Heat exhaustion can be disabling in summer. Drink 1 
to 2 quarts of water per day when hiking in hot 
weather. Wear light clothing including a hat. 

If you meet horses on the trail, give them a wide 
berth. On a sidehill, move to the downhill side of the 
trail to avoid accidently sliding under the horse's 
feet. Move well off the trail, but where you can be 
seen, and stand still, without waving or shouting. 

FOR BOATERS AND ANGLERS 

Boating on cold, high elevation lakes is extremely 
dangerous. Intensely cold water disables anyone 
immersed, for even a few minutes. Wearing life 
jackets and protective clothing is imperative. 
Boating permits are required. 

Wind can sweep large lakes without warning, 
generating large waves, even on cloudless days. 
Stay close to shore. Avoid crossing large lakes, 
particularly at midday, when thunderstorms are 
common. 

Required Yellowstone National Park fishing permits 
are free, and may be obtained at ranger stationsand 
visitor centers. Fishing regulation folders are 
available at the same locations 




REQUIREMENTS FOR RIDERS 

Take no more horses than you actually need. The 
fewer the better — 25 is the maximum, but may be 
fewer in certain areas of the park, to lessen impact. 
Some trails under wet, boggy conditions may be 
closed to horse use until they are dry enough to 
accommodate horses without being damaged. 

Stay on the trail. Do not shortcut. Repeated horse 
use causes erosion and can cut a new trail, which 
will confuse others coming later and unnecessarily 
scar the country. 

Free trailing or loose herding is not allowed on park 
trails All animals not ridden must be led. This is both 
for safety of other trail users and keeps new, 
unnecessary trails from being cut into meadows. 

Pellets and grain, but no hay, may be carried to 
supplement grazing. 

Picket or hobble stock well away from the trail, and 
always at a reasonable distance from campsites, 
lakesand streams. Change picketsfrequently. Avoid 
over-grazing one area or a particular campsite. 

10 



Hobbles are preferable, but. if you use picket pins, 
pull them all when leaving since they are an eyesore 
to later comers and tempt others to use the same 
spot 

The cutting of standing trees, tree limbs or shrubs 
for picket pins is not permitted Parties planning to 
use picket pins must carry them Tying stock to 
living or dead trees, shrubs, stumps, logs, hitch- 
posts, or hitchrails for extended periods of time, so 
that damage to vegetation or soil results, is 
prohibited. 

Corrals and drift fences are prohibited. For packing 
or saddling where there are no hitch rails, tie stock to 
a heavy rope slung between two trees. 

When you break camp, clean out and scatter any 
horse droppings from in or near your campsite. 

If you lose an animal and cannot find it by theend of 
your trip, be sure to report its loss to the nearest 
ranger station. 

NATURAL FIRES 

There will be occasions during the warm, dry 
weather of summer when forest fires will start in 
Yellowstone National Park from natural causes 
Thunderstorms in the Rockies often produce 
lightning without rainfall. These "dry" strikes can 
easily start a fire. 

You may occasionally encounter these fires in the 
backcountry. In many areas of the park, lightning- 
caused fires are being permitted to burn without 
interference. Even these allowable fires will be 
monitored, and may have observers in attendance 
for research purposes. Any unattended fire should 
be reported to the nearest ranger station. Do not 

11 



attempt to put out a fire unless it is small and 
obviously man-caused. 

Research has shown that natural fires have been 
part of Yellowstone's environment for thousands of 
years prior to our efforts to control them. Large fires 
burned at average intervals of 20 to 25 years in the 
vast lodgepole pine forests, and less frequently in 
the grasslands at high elevations. 

For more information on the natural fires program, 
ask for a free leaflet on this subject at any ranger 
station. 




BEARS AND OTHER ANIMALS 

Bears are wild and dangerous. They can injureor kill 
you, and can destroy your camp. They are 
particularly dangerous when startled, when cubs are 
present, when approached tooclosely, or when they 
have lost their fear of man. The Greater Yellowstone 
Area is the home of 200-400 grizzly and perhaps 
twice that many black bears. 

Avoid large animals such as moose, bison, elk and 
deer at close range, especially during mating season 
or when young animals are present. While bears or 
large animals cause greatest concern, remember 

12 



too that small rodents, porcupines, squirrels, chip- 
munks, and other animals can ruin your tent or 
backpack in their quest for food. 

Rattlesnakes are found at low elevations in the north 
end of the park. 

In bear country, there are no hard and fast rules to 
insure protection from bear attacks. Bear behavior 
varies, but the following precautions are strongly 
recommended. 

Do not hike alone Injuries most often have occurred 
to one or two hikers. Groups of four or more are 
recommended, and required in some areas of the 
park. Hike only during daylight hours. Use special 
caution when sight is limited by bends in trails or 
heavy cover, or when hearing or scent are covered 
by high winds, or by rushing streams. 

Bear droppings, tracks, and diggings indicate that 
bears are in the area. If you see a bear at a distance, 
make a wide detour around it, keeping upwind so 
that the bear will get your scent and not be startled 




Bears usually avoid people, so let them know you are 
there Many hikers tie bells to their packs. Most bear 
attacks are caused by suddenly encountering a sow 
with cubs. Whistling and loud talking can serve the 
purpose of warning a bear of your presence, but are 
difficult to keep up continously. 

Avoid all cosmetics, perfumes, scented lotions, and 

13 



deodorants. Bears are attracted or irritated by these 
scents. The odors of menstruation attract bears. 
The odor of sexual intercourse may also attract 
bears 

Do not camp in an area frequented by bears Do not 
camp on the trail. Avoid camping on ridge tops, 
streambanks and lakeshores They are natural 
travelways and feeding areas for bears If you 
suddenly meet a bear, stay calm. Do not run 
Running may cause a bear to chase you. Do not 
move toward the bear. It may feel threatened and 
become defensive. Bears are curious. As soon as the 
source of disturbance has been identified, the bear 
may leave. A grizzly will often rise on its hind legs to 
investigate. If it does, it may be effective to speak 
softly; steady, soft human monotones may reassure 
the bear that you are not a threat. At the same time, 
look for a tree to climb. Mature grizzlies can climb a 
short distance, and black bears can climb very well. 
The tree must be tall enough to get you out of the 
reach of the bear As a delaying action, drop some 
sizeable item, such as your pack, camera bag, or 
sleeping bag, which may divert the bear's attention 
and give you more time to retreat. If you can get into 
a tree, stay there until you are certain that the bear is 
out of the area. If you cannot reach a tree and the 
bear continues to advance, your best chance maybe 
to play dead As a last resort, lie on your stomach or 
on your side with your legs drawn up to your chest, 
and clasping your hands over the back of your neck. 
Grizzlies have passed by people in this position 
without harming them. Others have been only 
slightly injured when the bear made one or two half- 
hearted slaps at them. Never harass a bear unless it 
is actually attacking someone In such an emer- 

14 



gency, try to distract the bear from its victim(s) by 
shouting or throwing sticks, rocks, or any handy 
object. In any event, do not run blindly down the trail 
Or through the brush hoping to outdistancethe bear 
It will only excite the animal, and bears can easily 
run at twice the speed of the fastest human. 

A MOTHER GRIZZLY WITH CUBS IS A SPECIAL 
HAZARD 

Most encounters and injuries in Yellowstone's 
backcountry and several serious attacks that have 
taken place here and in other national parks have 
occurred when people came upon a female grizzly 
with cubs. The mother's protective instinct is highly 
developed and she looks upon intruders as a threat 
to her family. She may attack, charging and slapping 
with her forepaws at the nearest person, and then 
pass on to others If the human intruders have 
dropped to the ground to play dead, the sow may 
sniff each one and perhaps claw and bite them 
before moving her cubs to safety. Lying still under 
the jaws of a biting bear takes a lot of courage, but it 
may prevent greater injury or death. Resistance 
normally would be useless 







DON'T INVITE BEARS INTO YOUR CAMPSITE 

Make your fire and cook at your designated 
campsite, using the established fire pit or back- 
packer's stove Separate your sleeping and cooking 
areas by sleeping some distance away from your 

15 



cooking site. Camp where trees are handy and the 
kind you can climb. Place the open end of the tent 
close to these trees and sleep with your head at that 
end. This may provide an exit toward safety if the 
need arises. 

Dispose of fish viscera in the water in which you 
caught the fish. Throw the entrails away from shore 
into deep water. Part of a fish carcass decaying in a 
lake or stream is no mo.e ecologically wrong than 
the entire carcass of a fish dying a natural death in 
the same water. Puncture the air bladder so the 
viscera will sink to the bottom. In bear country 
especially, this is a far better method of disposal 
than dropping the viscera near a stream bank, 
burying them near a campsite, or trying to burn them 
in a fire. 

Burn all combustible trash, tin cans, and all 
noncumbustible trash (except glass) to destroy 
odors. Then take cans and foil from the cold ashes, 
flatten and pack them out to the trailhead for deposit 
in trash containers. Burying does not work because 
cans will be dug up later by bears. Burying only 
trains bears to search for food around campsites, 
and could result in a bear harassing or injuring the 
next camper there. Wash your dishes, and dispose of 
the dish water far from your campsite. 

Food, cooking utensils, and any scented articles 
such as soap, deodorants, suntan lotion or gum and 
garbage should be stored out of the reach of all 




16 



animals and away from the sleeping area. Suspend 
them in a bag or pack by a 50-foot nylon line 
between two tall trees at least 10 feet above the 
ground and 4 feet from either tree. Avoid cooking 
greasy odorous foods such as meat. Avoid cooking 
more food than you can eat. Dehydrating any excess 
food in a frying pan will render it almost as light as 
when you packed it in. Even outer clothing that you 
wore while cooking might be stored overnight with 
your food Keep tents and sleeping bags clean and 
free of food odors Never use them as storing places 
for any food or sweet drinks. A clean camp reduces 
the possibility of, but does not insure against, a visit 
by a bear. 

There are noguarantees in bearcountry. The hazard 
of a bear encounter is low, but very real. If you 
cannot accept the possibility of an encounter, then 
hike elsewhere. 

Tell a park ranger about sightings, damage, or 
confrontations with bears. 




17 




THE FUTURE OF YELLOWSTONE'S WILDERNESS 

Park management objectives are to "perpetuate the 
natural ecosystems within the park in as near 
pristine conditions as possible for their inspira- 
tional, educational, cultural, and scientific values for 
this and future generations," and to "permit natural 
processes to function with the park ecosystems with 
minimum disturbance by man's activities." 

You can help. Follow the guidelines presented in this 
booklet. Explore ways of traveling that leave the 
least sign of your passing. Use a stove instead of a 
campfire. Leave a clean campsite. Blend your 
clothing, equipment, voice and behavior with your 
surroundings; unobstrusive, well-mannered. Avoid 
traveling in very large groups. Leave axes, saws, 
radios, and tape players at home. Show others that 
you understand and share their search for 
contemplative, reflective recreation. Take only 
pictures; leave only footprints 

18 



INDEX 

INFORMATION SOURCES 

Ranger Stations 1 

Maps and Guidebooks 1 

EMERGENCY REPORTING 2 

REGULATIONS 

Backcountry Use Permits 2 

Boat Permits 2 

Fishing Permits 2 

Pets 2 

Firearms. Motor Vehicles 2 

Keep Food from Bears 2 

Disturb no Natural Objects 3 

Limits on People and Stock 3 

Backcountry Occupation Limit 3 

Campground Stay Limit 3 

Wood Fires 3 

Carry out Trash 4 

Bathing in Park Waters 4 

Digging, Generators 4 

Chamsaws 4 

Audio Devices 4 

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ALL BACKCOUNTRY USERS 

Backcountry Defined 4 

Backcountry Use Permits Available 5 

Off-trail and Solo Hiking 5 

Crossing Streams 5 

Hypothermia 6 

Lightning 6 

Thermal Areas 7 

Biting Insects 7 

Drinking Water 8 

Human Waste Disposal 8 

Ten Essentials Checklist 8 

FOR HIKERS 

Heat Exhaustion 9 

Meeting Horses on Trails 9 

FOR BOATERS AND ANGLERS 

Boating on Cold Water 9 

Fishing Permits, Regulations 9 



19 



REQUIREMENTS FOR RIDERS 

Limits on Stock 10 

Trails may be Closed 10 

Prevent Erosion 10 

Free Trailmg/Loose Herding 10 

Use Pellets --no Hay 10 

Pickets and Hobbies 10 

Avoid Tying to Trees 11 

Corrals and Drift Fences 11 

Manure Cleanup 11 

Report Lost Animals 11 

NATURAL FIRES 

BEARS AND OTHER ANIMALS 

Bears are Wild 12 

Avoid Large Animals 12 

Behavior in Bear Country 13 

Hike in a Group 13 

Hike in the Daytime 13 

Signs of Bears 13 

Let Them Know You're There 13 

Avoid Cosmetics — Other Odors 13 

Camp Out of Bear-use Areas 14 

If you Meet a Bear 14 

MOTHER GRIZZLY — A SPECIAL HAZARD 15 

DON'T INVITE BEARS INTO YOUR CAMPSITE 

Separate Sleeping and Cooking Areas 15 

Return Fish Viscera to Water 16 

Burn and Carry out Trash 16 

Hang Food in Trees 16 

Keep a Clean Camp 17 

Report Bear Sightings 17 

THE FUTURE OF YELLOWSTONE'S WILDERNESS 

SUGGESTED READING 



U.S. Government Printing Office: 1988—673-431/5001 

20 



SUGGESTED READING 

Hiking the Yellowstone Backcountry Orville E 

Bach. Jr Sierra Club. 1973 

Yellowstone Trails — A Hiking Guide Mark C 

Marschall YLMA. 1978 

The New Complete Walker. Colin Fletcher Alfred A 

Knopf. 1974 

Walking Softly in the Wilderness; The Sierra Club 

Guide to Backpacking John Hart Sierra Club. 1977 

Backpacking: One Step at a Time Harvey Manning 

Vintage. 1972 

Be Expert With Map and Compass Bjorn Kjellstrom 

Stackpole, 1967 

Mountain Wilderness Survival Craig Patterson 

And/Or Press, Inc., 1979 




Edited and Revised. 1981 by NPS Staff 
Illustrations by Bill Chapman 

United States Department of the Interior 

National Park Service 

Yellowstone National Park 




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